Harry Hope's Saloon

This blog takes it's name from the setting for O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh -- a lousy gin-mill; a smoked-out, greasy dive where the habitues have all landed, it seems, permanently. Their lives, in each case, are paralyzed by fear and laziness. Like my own.

Friday, November 26, 2004


In All in One Take I wrote:

And am I blurring a distinction that ought to be taken to exist between romantic and universal love?

Some of the most eminent thinkers in the history of the Occident have already answered no. Plato, Augustine, Dante, Castiglione (Castiglione?!) all wrote of the sure and steady path from focused ardor to divine rapture - as I think I did once, proceed from love of a single girl, to a passion for the universe that brought her to me.

This passage needs qualification, doesn't it?

It raises the question, or questions: what if the universe takes that object of focused ardor away, as it did your Denise when you were fifteen? What follows? Moral devastation? Rage? Universal melanchoy and maybe hatred over the ungracious take-back?

I think these questions can be answered something like this: devastation and melancholy, definitely. Also the potential for rage and hatred. But these last emotions, and others like them, usually resorted to in order to give direction and vent to the melancholy, are never necessary. Just incredibly tempting.

We want to have the capacity for suffering, to bear immense pain and emotional trauma. These are the wages we pay for being open to great joy. I believe they entail a capacity for empathy - for deep moral engagement.

I want to submit that giving in to rage and hatred are indications that we do not have such capacity. That we will rather vent than bear it.

And this is a sign that we are unable to venture on love. We won't risk it. We will gamble away our better angels.


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